LEADING THE WAY — From left are Deltona Interim City Manager Glenn Whitcomb and City Attorney Marsha Segal-George.

Stung by the acute shortage of administrative leadership in their city, Deltona’s elected officials say they are taking steps to end the uncertainty and the crisis of confidence inside and outside the municipal government.

“Whomever you choose, that’s your decision,” DeBary City Manager Carmen Rosamonda told the Deltona City Commission Sept. 11. “You have to be honest and factual. You need to do some soul-searching.”

He stressed communication and a willingness to confront challenges inside and outside City Hall as key qualifications for selecting Deltona’s next city manager.

“Some managers have blinders on, and they don’t want to see all the problems,” he said, adding the manager must “deal with the press and with the community residents.” “Communication is a big process,” Rosamonda continued. “You can’t be lackadaisical. You’ve got to have a champion attitude.”

Rosamonda is a volunteer go-to adviser for Deltona as it tries to find a new manager. Deltona’s elected and appointed officials say they are grateful for his assistance.

HELPING HAND — DeBary City Manager Carmen Rosamonda advises the Deltona City Commission on its hunt for a new city manager. Rosamonda offered himself up as a volunteer adviser to the city.

Deltona has been without a permanent city manager for more than three-and-a-half years, but the mayor and city commissioners have declared their intention to move quickly to find and hire the best person for that post. Though the fall means the waning of the calendar year, and the often-hectic holiday season looms ahead, the City Commission reached a consensus in favor of seeking out an executive-search firm to receive applications and résumés from those interested in working at the top of an oft-troubled organization. Deltona Mayor Santiago Avila Jr. would not rule out having a new permanent city manager in place before the end of the year or early in January.

If the commission is to hire someone within such a time frame, the applications must be winnowed and the field of candidates narrowed to a few finalists. Those who emerge as the consultant’s best choices may then be invited to come to Deltona for interviews by the City Commission.

“The commission ultimately determines the finalists list,” Rosamonda said. “Conduct a public meet-and-greet. … What we’re trying to shoot for is a clean process. … You’re looking for one candidate.”

As well as opting to tap an outside party for help, the Deltona City Commission reaffirmed its intention to consider the advice and recommendations of its newly appointed 14-member resident-advisory committee in narrowing down the prospects for city manager.

The executive-search firm, sometimes called a headhunter, will be chosen from firms responding to Deltona’s request for qualifications or a request for proposals. Advertisements soliciting offers to aid the city are now going out, and the cutoff date for responding is weeks away.

“Typically an RFP is 30 to 60 days,” Interim City Manager Glenn Whitcomb said.

Thus, the possible end-date for the hunt for a headhunter may be at or near the end of October.

All wannabe city managers will be directed to submit their applications, résumés and supporting documents to the search firm. Rosamonda, after all, advised the City Commission to designate the executive-search firm as the entity that will screen and conduct the background investigations of those who will emerge as the leading prospects for city manager. 

The members of the committee of Deltonans picked to advise the City Commission are Rachel Amoroso, Kathy Bryan, Frank DeLisa, Tara D’Errico, Jeff Fickes, Larry French, Terry Haines, Courtney Hannon, Heriot Davidson, Edwin Lasanta, Chris Nabicht, Emma Santiago, Caroline Hickerson and Troy Shimkus.

The first meeting of the committee has not yet been set. Segal-George told the committee members that they are a “sunshine” group, meaning they may not legally discuss their duties or any other business about the manager search with each other or members of the public outside the view of the public. All official business must be done openly, according to state law.

The story so far

Deltona has been without a permanent city manager since Jane Shang resigned in January 2020. Shang, who became city manager in 2015, fell out of favor with the City Commission amid the negotiations to bring Amazon to Deltona. Then-Mayor Heidi Herzberg said Shang had almost cost the city the opportunity to land a distribution center. 

After Shang left, her deputy city manager, Dr. Marc-Antonie Cooper, became her temporary replacement. Cooper, too, subsequently lost the confidence of the commission, some of whose members complained he had failed to keep them informed about various issues and matters within his responsibilities. Commissioners also were chagrined to learn he had been searching for other employment without informing them. 

Instead of allowing Cooper to continue as interim city manager, the commission in November 2020 demoted him to deputy manager and abruptly tapped then-Public Works Director John Peters as acting city manager. Peters remained in that position until mid-September 2022. Peters complained that commissioners were interfering in the city administration — something forbidden by Deltona’s charter and an offense that could result in removal from office under state law — and he resigned with an effective date of Nov. 17. He wanted out as city manager and to return to his former position as Deltona’s director of public works. Instead of accepting his resignation, the City Commission abruptly terminated him. Peters is suing the city for what he believes was a wrongful action.

To avoid a complete absence of leadership in the wake of Peters’ ouster, the commission named City Attorney Marsha Segal-George as a stopgap city manager. She was in charge of the city administration until the City Commission named former Daytona Beach City Manager James Chisholm as Deltona’s interim city manager. In what was supposed to be a short tenure until a new permanent manager could be found and hired, Chisholm began his duties Oct. 12, 2022. 

Deltona’s search for a permanent successor to Chisholm languished, and the City Commission gave Chisholm a one-year extension of his contract in March of this year. At first, Chisholm won praise for tackling Deltona’s drainage issues, which were exacerbated in the wake of hurricanes Ian and Nicole. Chisholm also volunteered to assist the commission in its search for a new city manager.

However, Chisholm became a lightning rod for criticism from opponents of what they perceived as a too-generous contract that included not only a $200,000 annual salary, but also medical insurance for his wife as well as himself and a city vehicle with all expenses for fuel, repairs and maintenance paid by the city government.

Amid questions from members of the City Commission regarding a possible evaluation of his work, Chisholm suddenly resigned Aug. 15 and placed himself on administrative leave for the next 30 days. Chisholm had appointed Rick Karl as deputy city manager, but Karl left when Chisholm walked out.

Stunned by the latest round of personnel turmoil, the City Commission appointed Deltona Public Works and Water Director Glenn Whitcomb as interim city manager, pending the conclusion of the latest search for a permanent chief administrator. When he accepted the appointment, Whitcomb said he wants to resume his duties as public-works director as soon as possible.


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